The Akwa-Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, has debunked allegations that he and other officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been compromised.
Igini disclosed this in a statement signed by him entitled: “Allegation of collusion wholly incorrect and untrue”, and obtained by INEC Press Corps in Abuja on Wednesday.
The statement reads: “In the past 3 weeks several misrepresentations, lies, innuendos and allegations have been directed at the INEC in Akwa-Ibom State Generally and to my person as the Resident Electoral Commissioner specifically.
“As a public servant, I am mindful of the burdens of my task as an Electoral Manager that in a very adversarial contest where political groups seek asymmetrical advantages over others, they may be tempted to descend to some unethical conduct; however it is generally accepted that they ought to restrain themselves from such conduct guided by the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“Still, one has noticed that there appears to be some impunity where some individuals refuse to be restrained by the law and have thereby persisted in attacks at the Electoral body using misrepresentations.
“To correct these misrepresentations for the benefit of the public I therefore wish to state as follows:
“INEC is not a contestant but an umpire in this election and will make every effort to ensure that it remains neutral irrespective of any provocation or misrepresentations.
“It is the responsibility of INEC, not political groups to determine who are recruited as Ad Hoc staff. The process of recruiting, training and deploying Ad-Hoc staff is made transparently clear to all stakeholders, their sources are well known to all Nigerians from NYSC, Federal MDAs and Federal Universities.
“How they were selected and trained was shared with all Parties in Akwa-Ibom state where INEC invited all parties and gave them the list to examine and state any objections they have. After that was done, no party raised any objections in the presence of over 30 media organizations.
“On the allegation of holding private meetings with some people, this is totally incorrect. Since resuming duty in Akwa-Ibom state I have made the deliberate social sacrifice of never having stepped into the home of any resident of the state to obviate such accusations. So I cannot have held meetings with people privately that I do not know.
“On the suggestion that I delivered all uncollected PVCs to the state Government, again this is false and groundless. In point of fact, when some PVCS were damaged I ensured that the Commission reproduced them so that the affected voters will not be disenfranchised and also received and delivered 33,077 PVCS for distribution.
“I have also heard that I convey a body-language that is bad for Election management in the State…whatever that means…but let me state clearly that my small body frame has no body language that is capable of intimidating anyone. If anything, I own up to conveying the body language of neutrality and impartiality which is beneficial for all political groups.
“I know that political groups seek assymetrical political advantage which is their right to do, but it is the job of INEC to ensure a symmetrical playing field for political competition.
“I have also heard that I did not give comfort to the brethren of a group in the state. Let me assure the Comrade Governor who made this claim that I am in Akwa-Ibom to provide the level playing field and comfort for everyone that he sought in Edo in 2015 when I conducted elections to the comfort of all groups there.
“My devotion to free and fair election has not waned or diminished hence I cannot deny the people of Akwa-Ibom the service I have faithfully rendered to Edo people.
“Let me state strongly therefore to all political groups and particularly the people of Akwa-Ibom that there will be a level playing field for every political party.”
Igni was reacting to accusations of alleged compromise levelled against him by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa-Ibom State and national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.